FAQ – Safe Driving

Q. Why do we hear about so many teens in the Upstate who are killed in car crashes?
A. “Large numbers of teens all over the United States are being killed in car crashes. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers in America. Certain behaviors, inexperience and immaturity combined with speed, not wearing seat belts, distracted driving, drinking and driving, drug use and driving, etc., contribute to the high numbers. In the upstate, we have many outdated “farm to market” roads (originally designed in the 1930’s and ’40’s to allow farmers in rural areas to bring their goods to town for sale), specifically narrow and winding back roads. These roads were not designed for the volume and speed of traffic as they are being used today. An inexperienced and immature teen on a narrow, winding road is a recipe for disaster.” — Jackie McCall, Safe Communities Coordinator

Q. Is it OK for me to text someone as long as I’m sitting at a red light?
A.“Texting while in the driver’s seat is a prime example of driver distraction. Driver distraction is the #1 cause of motor vehicle crashes. Whether stopped at a red light or cruising the back roads, if you are texting, then you are not giving 100% of your attention to driving, therefore, putting you at risk for a motor vehicle crash.” — Jackie McCall, Safe Communities Coordinator

Q. Is it OK for me to drive with my friends in the car?
A. “In South Carolina, there are passenger restrictions during the intermediate and restricted driving stages. You are not allowed more than 2 passengers younger than 21 (unless transporting students to and from school). However, these passenger restrictions are lifted at 16 years and 6 months of age. It is important that you remember that passengers are also a distraction. When teen drivers transport passengers there is a greatly increased crash risk.” — Jackie McCall, Safe Communities Coordinator

Q. Is it true it’s safer to be in a SUV or truck rather than a car?
A. “Not necessarily. Crash forces are still primarily based on physics. For example, a larger, heavier vehicle will inflict more damage on a smaller, lighter vehicle. However, in single vehicle crashes because of their higher frame height and center of gravity, trucks and SUV’s are more prone to roll-over. The most effective way to prevent an injury in any vehicle is to wear a safety belt.” — Dwayne Smith, Safe Kids Anderson County

Q. I’ve heard some people say that if they had been wearing their seat belt it would have killed them. Is that true?
A. “Possibly. Not every crash is survivable. However, the seat belt in and of itself is not what would have killed them. Quick lesson: A crumple zone is a zone of the car that absorbs energy upon impact. The purpose of a crumple zone is to increase the amount of time it takes the car to come to a complete stop in comparison to the object that the car hits. Crumple zones yield during a crash, changing energy from the crash, into heat and sound, which in turn reduces the chances that the passengers in the car will be hurt. In a vehicle accident, the safest place to be is inside the vehicle, attached to the vehicle’s seat. Further, you stand a much greater chance of being conscious after the crash if you were wearing your seatbelt. Being conscious allows you a greater chance of exiting the vehicle if you find yourself submerged in water or inhaling smoke from fire.” — Jackie McCall, Safe Communities Coordinator

Q. As long as I sit in the back seat, I don’t need to buckle up, right?
A. “Wrong. South Carolina’s seat belt law requires that every driver and every passenger must wear a fastened seat belt. However, the law does not apply to a driver or passenger who has a note from a physician that he/she is unable to wear a seat belt for physical or medical reasons.” –Jackie McCall, Safe Communities Coordinator